Some of the best holiday traditions involve some sort of mess. Wrapping paper being thrown like confetti, cookie crumbs littering the floor, and a live tree shedding in the middle of the living room are inevitable parts of the festive fun. We love everything about the holidays, but the cleanup afterward can become intimidating. Read on for easy ways to tackle tricky spots fast — even Santa will be impressed by the way your house sparkles after he shuffles down the chimney.
Lift stubborn sap.
If trimming the tree left sticky stuff on your clothes, carpet, or tree skirt, just grab rubbing alcohol, says Gabrielle Martin of cleanup company Bio Recovery. “Sap can be stubborn, but rubbing alcohol breaks up its bonds,” she explains. “Hand sanitizer works just as well — dab it on the spot to dehydrate the sap, and it’ll lift right out of the fabric.”
Erase hot cocoa spills.
Sigh! You were enjoying a sip of cocoa when a little dribbled onto your outfit. There’s no need to ask Santa for a new shirt — just head to your pantry and reach for the white vinegar. “Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, apply it to the stain, and let sit for about 30 minutes before washing as usual,” says Beatrice Flores, cleaning expert for Living Pristine. The acids in vinegar act like a pre-treater, allowing the stain to come right out in the wash.
Remove red wine.
Use a pinch of salt to get rid of these stubborn spills. When it comes to red wine stains, the quicker we act, the better, says Ryan Lupberger, CEO of Clean Cult. “And luckily that’s easy, because all you need to do is blot the stain dry, then cover it with salt. The crystals will absorb the wine and pull it right out.” After letting the salt sit a bit, brush it off, then rinse with hot water and launder as usual.
Conquer gravy stains.
If your gravy was devoured by guests, but your tablecloth soaked up some too, worry not: Cornstarch can solve your gravy grievances. To clean: Scrape off any excess with a plastic knife and sprinkle cornstarch over the stain to absorb grease; let sit 10 minutes. Brush away the powder, rub a teaspoon of dish detergent on the spot, and rinse with warm water — done.
Wash out soot easily.
There’s nothing like cozying up to the fireplace on a cold night, but the ash can make a mess of your rug. Thankfully, baking soda can help. To remove the dirt, make a paste using two parts baking soda to one part water, then spread a thin layer over the spot and let sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum up the paste, and the soot will get sucked right up.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.